Sleep, Weight Loss, And Health

Health, Strategies, Weight Loss Add comments

Lack of sleep and chronic stress come together.

Not sleeping makes you stressed and stress makes you lose sleep (which leads to more stress…)

Here’s some bad news: sleep deprivation and stress both play a role in struggling with weight loss and health problems.

Most people who are trying to lose weight never stop to think about the effects that missing sleep can have on their body.

Some people think that staying up longer can help them lose weight because they might be able to burn more calories. In fact, the opposite is true: a good night’s sleep actually helps you achieve a healthy weight, while a lack of sleep makes losing weight more difficult. (And people don’t realize one of the clearest truths about sleeping – when you’re asleep, you’re not eating!)

Not only does sleeping refresh your brain – so you can make clear decisions about food choices the next day – sleep (or a lack thereof), affects your metabolism, your hormones, and your immune system. All together these have a powerful affect on your health and weight.

Consider the following:

– A large study that followed more than 68,000 women for 16 years showed that women who slept less than 7 hours per night put on more weight than those who slept at least 7 hours. Additionally, women who slept only 5 hours per night were 33% more likely to gain significant weight (33 pounds or more).

– Sleep deprivation impairs insulin sensitivity, impairs carbohydrate tolerance, increases ghrelin (appetite hormone), decreases leptin, and increases cortisol.

– Research has shown that about 7 hours of QUALITY sleep are necessary for weight control and good health. Chronic sleep deprivation accelerates the onset and increases the symptoms of aging – including memory loss, high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity.

– Less than 4 hours of sleep in one night, or chronic sleep loss, has been shown to have a negative effect on carbohydrate metabolism. Put simply, carbs make you fatter if you’re missing sleep!

– A study found that adults who slept 4 hours or less per night are 73% more likely to be obese than those who slept between 7 and 9 hours per night. Sleeping between 5 and 6 hours per night leads to a 50% greater risk of being overweight and a 23% greater risk of being obese.

Missing sleep occasionally can be overcome, missing sleep every night (or almost every night!) is what starts to damage your body.

What you need to do is make a plan for getting at least 7 hours of restful sleep every night. Here are some tips to help:

  1. No TV near bedtime and ABSOLUTELY no TV in the bedroom
  2. Make sure your bedroom has good window coverings (for darkness), is uncluttered, and well ventilated.
  3. Create a “wind-down” ritual before bed.  Try herbal tea, dimmed lights, journaling, or a warm bath.
  4. Take calcium and magnesium before bed.
  5. No working or studying in bed.  Beds are for sex and sleep.
  6. Try aromatherapy – lavender helps with relaxation.
  7. Avoid eating right before bed, and try to have 3 hours between bedtime and your last big meal.
  8. Alcohol lowers sleep quality, so limit or avoid alcoholic drinks within a few hours of bedtime.
  9. A cooler room helps promote deeper sleep.
  10. Leave your worries outside the door – make your bedroom a stress-free zone.
  11. Guided imagery, progressive relaxation, meditation, and breathing exercises can all help with sleep.
  12. Caffeine interferes with sleep (it is a stimulant and also affects your production of the sleep hormone melatonin).  Time your intake so you can fall asleep easily.  This might mean no caffeine after 3pm, or it might mean no caffeine after 11am.  Everyone is different.
  13. Try using a sleep mask for perfect darkness.
  14. Invest in a comfortable pillow and mattress.
  15. Get a quality alarm with a back up battery so you won’t stress about sleeping in.
  16. Have white noise.  A fan, air purifier, or white noise machine are all good choices.
  17. Put blue light filters on all electronic screens in your home.  The blue light from monitors, laptops, and TVs simulates sunlight and blocks the release of melatonin.
  18. Paint and decorate your bedroom with serene and restful colors.
  19. Practice regular rhythms of sleep.  Go to bed and wake up at the same time each day.
  20. Keep your room dust-free.  Keep pets out of the bedroom at all times and consider getting an air filtering system.
  21. Get exposure to sunlight on your body and face as soon as possible after waking.  This helps tell your body it is time to wake up and enhances your sleep rhythm.
  22. Use a hot rice pack on your solar plexus (just below your rib cage) – this helps trigger your body chemistry for sleep.  (Cuddling a partner works too)
  23. Try herbal supplements before bed: Valerian Root, Kava Kava, Passionflower, Chamomile, and Lemon Balm all help with sleep.
  24. Get tested.  The most common and underdiagnosed sleep disorder is sleep apnea.  If you experience excessive daytime sleepiness, fatgiue, snoring, or have been seen to momentarily stop breathing during the night, get tested by a sleep lab.  (Sleep apnea greatly raises your risk of hypertension and heart disease)

Getting enough quality sleep will not only make you healthier, help you de-stress, and speed up weight loss, it will recharge you so that you can enjoy everything that life has to offer.

5 Responses to “Sleep, Weight Loss, And Health”

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